Hospitals getting price rankings
The government is set to categorise private hospitals based on their medicine and medical service charges so that patients can be informed of prices before they receive services.
Prayoth Benyasut, deputy director-general of the Internal Trade Department, said the department is dividing 354 private hospitals nationwide into three categories: high, medium and low. The levels will be announced on the department's website over the next couple of weeks.
"Information on the grade of each private hospital, once made available, will enable people to know the service charges for private hospitals and whether they can afford them," Mr Prayoth said.
He said the department is partnering with Chulalongkorn University to study the reference prices of medicines, medical supplies and medical services based on academic principles, transparency and fairness so that consumers can check prices before making the decision to pay for and receive treatment from private hospitals.
The first focus of the study will be on 100 popular medicines such as painkillers and antibiotics. The study on the reference prices for such medicines is likely to be concluded over the next 3-4 weeks.
The department said 48 of 354 private hospitals have yet to provide information on actual costs and their listed prices of drugs, medical supplies and medical services.
According to Mr Prayoth, the department's officials are taking legal action against these hospitals after they failed to honour the order to submit information to the department by Aug 31.
Medical costs and set prices will be updated in the department's database so that the public can compare prices and make informed choices.
Once the prices have been compiled and adjusted, the department will publish the information on its website and via QR code.
Those failing to respond to a summons will be subject to a three-month jail term and/or a fine of 5,000 baht.
The measure is in response to growing complaints about expensive drugs and services at privately run hospitals.
The department has studied information on the sales prices of the 20 most popular medicines supplied by private hospitals, such as paracetamol, bromhexine, ibuprofen, orphenadrine, roxithromycin and amoxicillin.
The difference between the production cost and retail prices charged by private hospitals was found to vary from 100% to more than 1,000%.